Recently, I went downhill mountain biking at Big Sky resort. I have ridden here many times before but there was something different about this trip. I arrived early and made a couple runs on my own. The second run brought me to a classic scenario I’ve seen and heard about many times. There was a girl with her presumed boyfriend on the side of an intermediate trail, crying uncontrollably. There are two possible reasons that came to mind when I saw this. Option A. She is hurt…but when I asked, she was fine. Option B. Her boyfriend convinced her that she could ride a trail she was not ready for.
When I see this situation, it makes my heart hurt because I know how she’s feeling. Her fear overwhelmed her, and possibly not wanting to disappoint her guy friend, she agreed to biking something she was not ready for. When she started down the hill, she quickly realized she was out of her element and not ready for the terrain she was on. Hence, fear set in and her emotions got the better of her, starting the flow of tears rolling down her face faster than most of the bikers. This is why I started Your Adventure Rx: to create a safe place for women to try outdoor adventurous sports like mountain biking.
I have been in this scenario many times before, feeling like I’m the low woman on the totem pole, fearful and not wanting to hold anyone back, ending up crying and feeling horrible. My mantra is no woman left behind, and I aim to empower anyone that rides, hikes or paddles with me. There should be no reason for tears when you take the terrain at your speed and level. If I don’t get a confident answer from someone when I ask about jumping up to the next level, I don’t encourage them to try because I know they will freak out or possibly crash. I have also instilled this into my own practice. I ask myself; “Am I at least 85% confident I can handle this?” If the answer is no, I walk away and save it for another day. No reason to push when I’m not at least 85% plus or more confident because experience has taught me that I am most likely to eat shit.
After my two runs, I met up with some friends I hadn’t seen in months (thank you COVID-19) and we jumped on the lift and started biking. Joel asked if his wife, Sharon, and I would want to drop this run called War Dance. Well named as the run had me dodging trees like machine guns firing at me. It was steep, had heaps of moon dust dirt (loose and soft) and weaved through tight trees.
As I dropped the line I found myself gripping my handle bars, saying cuss words, and questioning my choice of partaking in this nonsense, once again. It was a tough run! Truthfully, I do enjoy the challenge of riding through steep trees that mimic a live game of Tetris, but it still scares me. The only way down this slope through the loose dirt was to let the tires on my bike roll, which meant letting go of the brakes. I did let the front tire roll a bit, but still had to grip the rear and sometimes skid the rear tire around to make it through the course. Even at full grip on the rear brake I was still moving downward which gives you an indication of steepness. What I really needed to do was in order to properly move forward was to let the tires roll, a true challenge and test of physical and mental skill.
Mountain biking can be counterintuitive sometimes in that the faster you go the easier the ride can be, but I sometimes want to grip the brakes because I’m SCARED! It’s when I am gripped, scared and locked up that I wipe out. When I’m relaxed, the ride is smooth and enjoyable. I find this concept to be true in life. When I roll with life, things work out naturally without stress. I find that when I let fear take over situations become hard to deal with and I become even more frustrated. The more I ride, the more confident I become as I realize that letting the tires roll is the most efficient way to get down the mountain. This is the same in skiing and all the other sports I partake in as well. Fear stops us from doing what we really want to do. I don’t know why fear of failing or fear of succeeding stops us from doing what we want but overcoming it is awesome!
Awhile back, I decided to say “F*^ it.” I’m just going to ride my little heart out and not worry about the consequences. My thoughts were if I hit something, I hope I hit hard enough to stop me for good. Lights out. With that thought in mind I started riding like the wind and going off jumps and riding things I never thought I could ride. Guess what? I started to become a more technically sound rider and was able to start keeping up with the boys. Letting the tires roll, went for it, and rarely fell because I let go of fear, believed in myself and progressed with the “I either can or can’t do it” mentality and would gladly walk away when I wasn’t feeling it. Letting go of my fear and insecurities actually allowed me to become a better biker. I fell in love with biking again, more so than I ever had been.
Here are 3 tips to try to let it roll in your personal life:
- Let it go. Let those little insecurities, annoyances and unknowns stop you.
- Be fearless. Try things you never thought you could do and feel your confidence grow.
- Perspective. Take a step back and look at the problem from a distance. How serious is the problem you are stressing over? Is it REALLY that bad?
It’s when I let go of my imposed fear that my riding (and life) accelerated. When I let go of the anxieties of the unknown, things in my life naturally start to flow.
About Diana – Owner of Your Adventure Rx
If you thought you couldn’t do it, think again. If you hang out with us for too long you’ll start believing in yourself and leave knowing you can accomplish anything. Diana is an Adventurer, Certified Therapeutic Recreational Specialist (CTRS), worked as a professional outdoor recreation educator for people with and without disabilities for the last 20 years, traveled to over 20 countries, and is also certified in Wilderness First Aid. She climbed many mountain peaks, biked numerous trails, and paddled all around the world.